Monday, February 28, 2011

2nd Half of February Harvest

Yellow cherry tomatoes have been the main produce for the month of February. Cucumbers have bounce back from the 40+degree Celcius heat-stress we had some weeks ago.We feel lucky that we can at least harvest one cucumber almost everyday. Some of the most exciting things about harvesting this month were many selection to choose from and different variety of vegetable to harvest. Furthermore, some summer vegetables that we were waiting for it to produce has also rewarded us it goodies like~ angled luffa, snake bean and cucumber white spine. We had rain in mid-summer! This has made kangkung (water spinach) very happy and grow new leaves very fast after we cut them. This time from my husband fishing trip we got some fish.
We grow 3 different eggplant variety ; Early long purple, Lebanese and Bonica and managed to harvest all 3 of them at the same day. Okra has start to flower again but will struggle again when the weather is cold at night. Capsicum this year are smallish compare with last year. Purple bell capsicum looks like eggplant when they are in the same container.
Our zucchini and pattypan squash are starting to loose its shyness, male and female start to bloom almost synchronously and we were able to harvest some decent size of produce. With the rain and cooler weather we managed to get an average sweet corn. Chives are abundant and I even take some division to grow on another veggie patch instead of keeping them just in pots. Spring onion that were grown probably 10 months ago with a very fat bulb look like white onion. We still have some leeks growing in the polystyrene container to harvest.
So so so happy that our angle luffa plant gifted us with one very sweet fruit for the first time. It is our first time growing them in Adelaide and I am glad that this warm loving vegetable are suitable to grow here. It has been years since I ate angle luffa, never buy angle luffa here even though we can find it is Asian grocery shops.
Some Australia brown onion grown from seeds were also harvested because they were completely dried.
We harvested our first cucumber white spine and okra burgundy for the first time this summer. Cucumber white spine takes a long time to produce compare with the other two cucumber that we currently have in the garden; Green Gem and Apple cucumber. I like cucumber white spine (heirloom)very much and the seeds are not found in any of the Australia seed company catalog anymore. This is my second year growing this cucumber, I hope I can managed to save some of cucumber white spine seeds this year. Although I have harvested some sweet corn, I have not even have a bite on it as it is reserved for Ilhan and Rayyan. Ilhan will eat it raw fresh straight away after harvest.
All the variety of beans that we are growing is producing prolificcally. We are keeping harvested beans in the freezer except for snake bean.
What have you been harvesting this month?

Visit Daphne's Dandelions for Harvest Monday.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sharing our Home-Saved Seeds (February)

I always forget what type of seeds I have collected each month so I decided to post about our home-saved seeds this month. I thought that we will only be able to collect less than 3 variety of plants vegetable in this month. However, I was very surprised and happy that we managed to collect a lot of seeds. Since we don’t need that many I have pack the seeds in small packets to share with our weekly local community fruit and veggie swap and next Adelaide seed-savers group meeting.

My boys will also randomly pick one blogger from this post comment to share our home-saved seeds. He or she can pick 5 type of seeds from this month collectionWinking smile.


It was easier to collect Mammoth Sunflower seeds rather than the Evening Sun Sunflower. Finally I got to eat my own organic kuaci (the seeds). We also have sowed a new batch of mammoth sunflower seeds from the seeds that we have collected.

Mammoth Sunflower

Sunflower-Evening Sun

Colourful thousands seeds of Evening Sun Sunflower have been collected this month. I still have no idea where I am going to keep them. The birds at the moment are so well fed they don’t even bother the seeds, where I leave the seeds under the shed.


Okra-Clemson Spineless

I did not plan to collect any okra seeds this month yet. I forgot to harvest them until the seeds were already popping out from the seed pods. Lucky! I hope the okra plant don’t stop producing.


Marigold (Crackerjack-African)

This marigold can grow very tall about ~60cm tall.


Calendula –Sunshine

They self-sowed easily and I found many calendula seedlings in our veggie patch.


Portulaca~Sundial Mango

Heat and drought tolerant flower plant.

Sundial Mango portulaca seeds

Lettuce seeds

I am not sure which lettuce variety it is and not sure if the bees has cross-pollinate it with other different lettuce.

Lettuce Mix Salad


The process of taking the seeds out from the capsule cause a very lemony fragrant in the room.


Have you started collecting seeds this year gardeners in Southern Hemisphere and tropical region? Northern hemisphere gardeners will be busy sowing seeds I reckon and can’t wait for spring.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Summer bean flower

One of the most exciting thing for me before going off to school this week in the garden is to watch our snake bean plant bloom and now producing long long long bean very fast. The snake bean bloom always remind me of my mother small backyard garden during my childhood where I would always play with the blooms while I wait for my mother finish with our laundry.

 Snake bean needs a long period of growth before it start to give your first harvest. This summer in Adelaide we have to wait for 3 months for it first flower bloom. As long as the summer is still warm it will continue to produce delicious pods because it has a long harvest season compared to bush bean. The beans can grow to abour 30cm long in just 3 days. I did not make a special trellis for snake bean this year, I let them climb all over sweet corn and tomatoes. Snake bean has bigger bloom than Redland Pioneer bush bean and Purple King bean twice bigger the size.
We only grow 3 types of beans this summer. Redland Pioneer bean have white flower and produce some beans very fast after sowing in over just a month.
I don't have much luck with Purple King bean. This is my second attempt at growing Purple King in summer but it is easily succeptable to desease.

It does produce many flower and beans but the plant does not look healthy.
 Can't wait to have our first taste of Allenby Garden home-grown snake bean.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Heat-tolerant Asian Leaf vegetables (reviewing)

I always make sure that we have some supply of Asian leaf vegetables growing every month on our veggie patch. They are life-savers if other plants are not doing well due to the weather or desease at least we have something to harvest. Advantages of growing asian leaf vegetables are can be harvest at any stages, quick to grow, use a small space, grow well in partial shade, can be grown in shallow container even 10cm of soil depth and the very reliable cut and come again harvest. However, one main point to remember when growing Asian leaf vegetables is that it likes mild weather and our mid-summer will be a bit tricky to grow them as extreme weather can cause them to bolt easily. For example, choy sum that were grown in December all flowered and producing seed pods. So, I reckon choy sum sowing break will be from December until February during warm weather well that is the whole summer. So this is a review of Asian Leaf vegetable trial result growing in warm weather here in Adelaide (or Allenby Gardens) for this summer. From this observation, I can update a new sowing schedule at the bottom of my blog and don't waste seeds next season.

Although I often harvest leaf amaranth (bayam) to prevent them from flowering too quickly, it still bolted this month. Is this due to hot extreme weather or cold nights that we have sometime when the temperature really fluctuated during day and night, I am not sure which is the cause. Kangkung has been doing very well this summer. The rain that we had recently has made kangkung (water spinach) happy and growing very fast. Some of the kangkung has been growing for 3 or 4 months and has been cut many times. I wonder how long will spinach be able to grow here in Adelaide as this is our first season growing KangKung in Adelaide. I was a bit worried growing them at first as we usually have very dry summer here and KangKung is very fond of moisture. I am glad it thrive in Allenby Gardens without any special care. Kangkung grow well from seeds here but not from cuttings. Moreover, I finish sowed all of our kangkung seeds this month and the germination rate was good.
We sowed some Chinese Broccoli (Kailan) seeds this month but germination was not good. I think it is still not the right time to start sowing this vegetable perhaps next month. I remember that last year in autumn we had so many Chinese Broccoli harvest. So this vegetable does not like hot weather very much, either it bolt or have very slow growth. Inter-planting kailan with jicama (sengkuang) more than 3 months ago but very slow growth until now I have not finish harvesting as waiting for it to grow bigger.
Mei Qing Choi F1 has been very reliable providing us with lot of leaf vegetable harvest this summer. I made a post about growing Mei Qing Choi F1 last month.

Sowed many seeds of Mei Qing Choi F1 in January and this month. The germination rate was almost 100%. Only direct sowing method was used this summer.

I found one of the Mei Qing Choi F1 plant bolted and the flower look really strange not the common features of brassica flowers. The flower is not symmetrical like pak choi flower, instead it have many petal with strange order. I guess this is expected coming from a hybrid or mutant flower.
 Which leaf vegetable grows well during warm weather in your garden?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Earliball Sayonara

The first cabbage that we grown from seeds is Earliball variety which is a hybrid and small size cabbage suitable for gardener who has small space to grow. Earliball can be grown all year round. This variety is also very suitable to be grown in containers and we have some success growing this cabbage in container.
Earliball cabbage (2)
The biggest cabbage head that we managed to harvest was about 12cm diameter across the cabbage head. Although it is small, you might think it will be ready to be harvested quicker than the normal cabbage variety, we found this is not the case. For example in autumn, we planted cabbage earlier than the sprouting broccoli but broccoli produce the head first and cabbage was just starting to form head. Growing cabbage is easier to manage in June~August where it is too cold for the white cabbage butterfly to make an appearance. So the cabbage look much more better than the one grown in warm weather, less artistic design from caterpillar and you only worry about snail and slug. Personally, I think growing broccoli and cauliflower are much more easier than cabbage. I wish for nets but with the layout it is not that easy to set it up in our place. One more thing that I observe from this patch is not to grow cineraria near the brassica as it is also a favourite playground for the caterpillars just look at those leaves.
When they are small it is easy to check underneath the leaves whether they are butterfly eggs or not. But when they already grown so many leaves its hard to check every single leaf. I tried chili spray but it is not effective.
Cabbage earliball hybrid

Sometime the earliball cabbage produce the size of a tennis ball or even brussels sprout which made me think I better plant brussels sprout rather than this variety. Considering the time and space to grow this variety, I don’t think it is worth to grow it anymore. I thought of not growing any cabbage this cool season but I just called my mama and she said my brother asked why I did not give him any cabbage seeds from all the seeds I sent back home because it is one of his favourite vegetables. Now, I have an excuse to buy cabbage seeds for autumn planting and give some to my brother. No more hybrid cabbage they give mixed results. I am still undecided which type of cabbage to grow, I think I can afford to grow medium size cabbage since I have expand our space to grow by using the space at the other side of our backyard fence. Or if I am ambitious a big one.LOL. Earliball cabbage in the stage of forming head.
After the first time we grown our cabbage we dare not buy any cabbage at the market again as we experience it is not easy to grow perfect cabbage without using any chemicals. Maybe under nets it will be easier to grow them. Even in organic stalls it is written that cabbages they are selling use minimal spray. I prefer our ugly cabbage than the one that has sprayed. Cabbage is one of the vegetables that I am not good at growing it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mid-Summer Bloom in our small area at Allenby Gardens

We have lesser blooms from flowering plants in our garden during middle of summer. Most of them are self-sowed plants and are hardy against the extreme hot weather and some are saved from the blazing sun because they were in partial shade.

Sue the author of Our Plot at Green Lane Allotment have given me a tutorial of how to make a photo album slideshow for this post. Thank you Sue.
For more Flower on Saturday visit Simply Life-Photography.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

“Project: Save the Bees” in whose garden?

I posted about Project: Save the Bees early this month~Holly the author blog of Tasty Travel…food talks, I listen blog is hosting. I will share our home-saved seeds Poppy Shirley Double Mixed (the only one not home-saved seeds), Calendula Sunshine, Lakspur, Evening Sun sunflower and Nasturtium Jewel Mixed to 3 bees buddies. Three bees buddies will be announced at the bottom of this post.

First I have a question does Dahlia attract bees?

I bought a punnet of Cinderella Dahlia in spring. I wanted a big bloom but with my lack knowledge of dahlia I bought a small size of bloom. I thought of combining different flower in one pot, so I choose Sundial Mango portulaca as dahlia bosom friend. This is a before and after arrangement of these 2 flowers. I think I should just planted one dahlia in that pot.

Yellow Cinderella Dahlia

Dahlia (9)

After the 40+ degree Celcius came, some of our dahlia died and some which have been lush with leaves and flower are back to resemble as baby seedlings. I am not sure whether to try growing dahlia again or not. It does not do well in my hand. But I admire tall and big dahlia bloom in autumn when I walk around our neighbourhood.

Do you have good memories with dahlia?

Three bee buddies are the author blog of ~

Aux Plaisirs du Jardin

Test with Skewer

Vege Patch Diary

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Trouble Tomatoes

It has been not an easy journey for our tomato plants through this summer. The tomato plants have to get through many kind of problem and endure the 40+degree Celcius that came. At least this summer the heat waves were not that bad as previous summer when we had continuous everyday in one week of heat waves that will certainly made them not easy to survive. So this is what happened to large tomato variety(Black Russian?Rouge de Marmande?can't remember which one nevertheless all of them share the same fate) after a few days of 40+degree Celcius.
Not sure why but Tigerella variety skin split easily. Other tomato varieties seems allright and do not have this problem. I wonder if it is over ripe because I waited for Tigerella to show more stripes before I want to harvest them.
Caterpillar has been making tomatoes its own house and grow very fat living inside the tomato.
I thought that this variety of cherry tomato will turn red when its matured. I finally realised that this tomato turn brownish green when it is ripe. No wonder I have several fruit skin split while waiting for it to turn red. Last year I bought a packet of rainbow cherry tomato mix and I thought it will be different variety of red and yellow cherry tomatoes. This variety is the most sweetest tomato growing in our veggie patch, sweet like eating candy. I have to remember to collect some seeds from this tomato plant. From the random cherry tomato seeds that we planted only one seeds popped to be this variety.
The most hardy heat-tolerant (or heat-wave tolerant) tomato plant for this summer is the yellow cherry tomatoes where other varieties suffer major casualties, yellow cherry tomato got through the 40+degree Celcius with just a small scratch. Tomatoes are originally yellow in colour before the old world came sailing to new world and brought back this plant. Maybe the colours do make a difference against the hardiness towards the sun force. May the force be with you my cherry tomatoes to provide us many harvest this summer. We hope your other big brothers will bounce back again next month as they are now growing new shoots from the bottom of the plant like baby seedlings to recover from being sun-burn.
What is your favourite tomato variety?

Monday, February 14, 2011

1st half of February harvest

Main fruit or vegetables that were harvested in the first half of month February has been the yellow pear cherry and yellow tiny cherry tomatoes. Other tomato varieties and cucurbit produce has been decreasing since we had extreme hot weather. But last week the weather has cool down a little bit, all the effected or burned leaves has been pruned and new shoots has started to grow. The first week of February harvest there were many of tomatoes top that has been burned in the harvest photos. Bitter gourd unintentionally were harvested a bit mature with the sign of yellowish bottom. Australian Brown Onion grown from seeds had to be harvested even smallish size due to extreme hot weather that cause the plants to wilt.

Harvested 3 sweet corns but only Ilhan ate them all. Ilhan really like sweet corn and always wanted us to harvest the one still developing on the plants like to eat them fresh.
Harvested earliball small hybrid cabbage variety, Chinese broccoli, apple cucumber (had to harvest them early as the weather was so hot it ripen to quick turn yellowish) and some leeks (clearing the pot to sow another batch of Chinese broccoli).

I harvested some carrot that were growing in very heavy clay soil and was surprised to see that the roots can grow longer than I expected. Carrots that were grown in clay soil is so much paler than the ones grown in containers. We managed to hand-pollinated some zucchinies this month. I observed that leaf amaranth bolt very fast during extreme hot weather so have to harvest them frequently before it bolts.
There are some vegetable that were grown over winter that we can harvest this month such as leek, Chinese Celery and spring onion (the bulb has grown looking like white onion).
We are thankful with the opportunity of harvesting different variety of cucurbits this month such as button squash, zucchini and apple cucumber.
The ever reliable cut and come again KangKung (water spinach) that we grown in polystyrene containers. We have 4 polystyrene container that we used to grow KangKung to supply our kitchen. I would love to collect KangKung seeds this autumn but I wonder if it will ever flower here.
From ocean to our kitchen last Saturday are 9 squids that were caught by my hubby. We have better luck this year catching squids. I deep fried them with lemon basil for lunch.
What is your main harvest this 1st half of February?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Seed Week Sidebar button

For easy search for posts that have been linked during Seed Week, I have finally managed to figure out how to make a sidebar button for it. Just click on the sidebar button and it will open a new page which have the compilation of inspiring post linked during seed weeks if anyone needs some information.
Fun reading and planning!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February Container Gardening in Progress

Fortunately for this summer, gardening with polystyrene container has helped a lot in giving us harvest for kitchen supplies. We have one veggie patch (1metre wide X 7metre long) which is not suitable for growing almost anything during summer as it received sun whole during the day and the soil temperature must be more than 40 degree Celcius. We tried mulching it does not helped. But in winter this is the most happiest place for the plants to grow. So it is time to let that patch rest and let the polystyrene container do some talking or rambling. Our mini tropical garden; JAP pumpkin, cherry tomatoes, okra,bitter gourd, sweet potatoes, water spinach, ginger and others.
One of our mini SUB-tropical~mediteranean garden. I can't say tropical because leek don't belong in the tropics. It will be difficult for leek seeds to germinate above 30 degree Celcius. Sweet potato plants are all over other plant space as well.

I was surprised to see watermelon seeds that I sowed less than 2 months ago have started to produce female flowers. I had trouble with watermelon seed germination this year as the weather were late to warm last spring.
Pak choi's family usually don't grow well here in Adelaide during mid-summer as we have really hot weather during the day. But Mei Qing F1 pak choi seems to be very heat tolerant.
Due to cool weather at night this summer, our okra's Clemson Spineless that grow so well last year is not growing healthily and growth are stunted. However, Okra Burgundy look promising as this can tolerate cooler weather from the information on the seed packet that I bought. Water spinach and okra grow well together.
Youngest batch of Green Gem Cucumber sowed in December has started to produce flowers.